Friday, January 21, 2011

Part-Time Working Mom

I've always said that, besides the obvious reason of wanting my children to grow up seeing me for the bulk of every day rather than someone else, I became a stay-at-home mom because I couldn't handle how insane life would be if I was gone at a job all day and then still had to pick up the kids, cook dinner, feed a family, clean up, spend time with the kids, supervise homework, run errands, exercise, care for the pet, pack lunches, pack school bags, do laundry, and pick up the house before I went to bed. Only to repeat it all the next day. And somewhere in there I'd need to do things like the real housecleaning, and grocery shopping, and paying bills and scheduling appointments and maintaining a house and yard and all that. And what about kid and family events and activities? When would you do all that?

Well, here I am working approximately 15 hours per week--from home--freelance writing for a health website. Only I'm still also a full time-stay-at-home mom doing all of the above, and more. And I'm realizing that already I'm having difficulty sustaining this pace. I can work as much or as little as I want; I get paid by the piece, and it's up to me how many I write each week. But sometime in December I upped my output from 10 articles per week to 15, to earn extra cash for Christmas presents, and then just sort of decided to keep it there. If I could write 15 articles one week, I could do it every week. Right?

It turns out that yes, I can--but it's a constant fight and since I am busy working at my unpaid family/household CEO position all day every day, I generally end up using my former "free/relaxation" time in the evenings to (try to) work--and then later in a mad rush toward the end of the week, trying to cram 7 or 8 or 9 articles' worth of writing into Friday night and Saturday. Of course, on Saturdays there's the girls' gymnastics classes and laundry and cooking dinner and buying groceries.

On the other hand, you would not believe how incredible it is for me to be earning some money. It's not a huge amount; but it's a 15-hour-a-week part-time job amount. In other words, it's enough to help pay for groceries, my near-constant Target runs, the preschool tuition, the swimming lessons. It's enough to let me do things like buy $20 after-Christmas-clearance-sale boots for myself without standing in the shoe aisle for 45 minutes in a sweat, wanting those boots so badly, knowing they're a total steal, and yet having a hard time justifying spending $20 on stylish boots rather than milk and bread. (Really, "$20-boots" and "stylish" are not mutually exclusive. Check it! Though it looks like they're no longer on sale!)

Which is why I'm forcing myself to work for pay approximately 15 hours per week, when it could be 10. Because whoever said money can't buy happiness has clearly never gone six years without being able to freely buy non-essential little treats and rewards for herself without feeling guilty and having to mentally try to do the checking account math. An iced latte here, a bottle of nail polish there, a running skirt, a scarf--stuff like that. It's amazing how happy little things like that can make a hardworking, underpaid mom.

But man oh man--the schedule! How to fit it all in?

Hey, wait--I wonder what Gwyneth would do?

Don't answer that.

1 comment:

Mnmom said...

That's funny - Gwyneth of course has a personal shopper to take care of that.

I hate that I'm working and STILL getting stomach aches about spending money on something as simple as a $5 scarf. Life was supposed to be so much easier by now, right?